John Henry Melnyk

John Melnyk

John Henry Melnyk, whose research led the way for modern in-vitro fertilization techniques,  passed away at Valley Medical Center, in Renton, Wash., March 12, after suffering a stroke. He was 88.

Melnyk was born Oct. 20, 1923, in Winnipeg, Canada, to John and Mary (Lucicka) Melnyczuk.  He received bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Manitoba in 1956 and 1957, respectively, and was awarded a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Alberta in 1961.

Melnyk served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1942 to 1944 as a ham radio operator.  On Aug. 8, 1953, he married Mona Laverne Fraser.

Melnyk and Mona moved the family to Eagle Rock, Calif., in 1964 to start his appointment as assistant professor in the pediatric department of the University of Southern California, Childrens’ Hospital of Los Angeles. The family moved to Arcadia when Melnyk worked as a scientist at City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

In 1972, the family moved to Laguna Beach. Melnyk worked as prenatal center laboratory director for Long Beach’s Memorial Hospital in 1981 and 1982. In 1981, the Melnyks established Orange County’s first private prenatal diagnosis center, Medical Genetics, Inc. at Fountain Valley Medical Center.

When the company was sold in 1991, the couple retired to Palm Springs. Mona passed in 1997.  John remarried Genevieve Mary (Bozajeski) Hewko in 1999.

Melnyk will be especially remembered for his contributions to early genetics studies. He was the first person to inject a chromosome into a single cell, leading the way for modern in-vitro fertilization techniques.

Survivors include sister Anne Portree of Winnipeg Manitoba; children, Millard Melnyk, Laurie Bettridge, Lisa Cramer of Washington and David Melnyk, Paul Melnyk of California; 25 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

A wake was held March 17, at Hilton Garden Inn, Renton, Wash. Private committal will be held at Forrest Lawn, Covina Hills.

Memorial contributions are unnecessary. However, a good gesture or tipping of a glass in remembrance is suggested.

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